PAUL Whelan is enjoying his second stint as a footballer that resulted in a major milestone at the weekend – his 400th game.
The tally includes 306 in the seniors and the balance in the reserves, many coming after 2014 when he and a few mates decided to come out of retirement and help the club out.
He played his first senior game for Korumburra as a 17-year-old back in 1991, long before the merger with Bena.
Whelan missed the centenary year flag when the club bought up big in 1992 but was a crucial part of the club’s most recent flag in 1997 when he was the team’s key defender.
He pulled the pin the first time in 2009 at 36 after he coached the reserves into a grand final.
“Like a lot of my contemporaries, we came back in 2014 when the team was struggling for numbers and we ended up winning the reserves flag which was a lot of fun.
“I’ve been playing ever since.”
Jamie and Mat Walker, Dav Nicholas and Matt Whiteside are among the golden oldies still running around when they can.
Paul’s milestone game even featured Andrew Newton, such was the shortage of manpower due to a club wedding in Port Douglas.
The Giants went down to Koo Wee Rup, but they had plenty of fun in the process and made the Demons earn every kick.
“I’m still enjoying it,” Whelan said.
“Training and playing with guys 10, 15 and 25 years younger keeps you young.”
He said he’s on a “managed” training plan and his body is holding up well.
At this rate, he’ll be there when his sons Corey and Daniel reach senior level which is only a few years away.
His wife Melissa said though that Saturday’s was the last banner she’d make for him.
There’s another lure, too. Only Peter Smith (Bena, 419 games) and Terry Waycott (Bena, 431 games) are ahead of him on the club’s all time list.
On Saturday’s form, he’ll get there. He kicked one of the Giants three goals and took a heap of marks in defence when used there.
Whelan said he’d like to thank the coaching staff at Korumburra-Bena for allowing him to play three quarters in the twos each week before he begins his role as defensive coach for the seniors.
“They’re letting me have my cake and eat it too which I really appreciate.”
400 and still going strong